2 a.m. last night found me on my couch, eating fun-sized boxes of Milk Duds and playing Lunar: Silver Star Story on the PS2 Heather left for me after we filmed the book trailer for Amber Benson’s Witches of Echo Park. I couldn’t sleep, partially because I come from a long line of insomniacs and partially because my husband has a cold, so he was snoring and carrying on. I was strangely happy in this moment, wrapped up in a fuzzy blanket, having taken control of my insomnia rather than freaking out, like I normally do.
About a week ago, I decided, in my ongoing quest to become a super-productive human with an awesome house who writes a novel every single morning, I started doing Buzzfeed’s “Morning Person Challenge.” Now I’m generally a pretty decent morning person; by 7 a.m. I have my coffee and am writing at my desk/kitchen table, but I occasionally get in these fits where I decide that my life could somehow be more awesome/pretty/productive and then throw everything into disarray and then break down crying. There’s a Basic Bitch inside me trying to fight her way out, like a demon.
The first few nights of the challenge were GREAT. I turned off screens two hours before bed. I read George Saunders. I put on the new comforter that my friend Tara bought us for our wedding, and I lit the candle Liz gave us when we went to visit her. I used the time I wasn’t wasting on Twitter to practice chess, listen to The Martian on audiobook and to try meditation. I was calm and relaxed and felt very smart.
But as week two rolled around, I wasn’t sleeping well, which meant that I wasn’t as productive in the morning as I could be, which meant MY WHOLE LIFE IS CRAP AND I AM AN UGLY FAILURE WHO DOESN’T KNOW 22 LIFE HACKS ABOUT CONTOURING!!!!!
The Basic Bitch was out, screaming for infinity scarves and whimsical kitchen gadgets. I had to fight her back or I would wake up and everything in my apartment would be spray-painted gold and there would be scented candles EVERYWHERE. I’ve already hung my hats (and necklaces!) on wall hooks. LOOK WHAT YOU’VE DONE TO ME, BUZZFEED.
I quit the Buzzfeed challenge. I felt bad about this, because I like to see things through and feel like a garbage human if I don’t. But it was making me crazy. I like my morning routine. It works for me, and I AM productive. I could be more productive, sure, and I’ll work on that, but no website that routinely boasts articles like “If Disney Princesses Were Condiments” can tell me how to live my life.
I kept up with the evening routine. It worked, and it made me happy. But last night, playing old RPGs at 2 a.m. while eating Halloween candy, was oddly comforting. Yes, I know the blue light is bad for sleep. Yes, I know that I could have been doing something productive. But fuck that. By doing something that I normally wouldn’t let myself do, by indulging in some under-indulged vices and shaking up my routine, I actually relaxed enough to fall asleep after an hour.
I’m tired of trying to hack my life to look like someone else’s Pinterest board. I am no whimsical or #Inspiration, I do not have the time or the energy to bake gluten-free/dairy-free/soy-free/organic/nut-free/free-range granola bars or hand-stitch chair cushions that look like sushi. Could I tidy up? Yes. Could I eat better, exercise more, brighten up my kitchen with a fun rug? Sure, why not.
But I am also a grown-ass woman who can sleep and wake up and decorate her apartment for when and how and what suits her. I am not defined by listacles or other people’s idea of what a productive life looks like. It sounds so simple now, doesn’t it? But it’s easy to get sucked in, to measure yourself by other people’s standards.
Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s 11 a.m., I should probably get dressed and actually get outside today.